How does Lithium affect recovery upon stress and lifespan of budding yeast? Patrick and Svenja led the study to find some answers and, even more exciting, opened many more doors.
Lithium salts are used in the treatment of mood disorders, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. It has been shown to prolong life span in several phyla; however, not yet in budding yeast. In our study, we investigate the influence of lithium on yeast cells’ viability by characterizing protein aggregate formation, cell volume, and molecular crowding in the context of stress adaptation. While our data suggest a concentration-dependent growth inhibition caused by LiCl, we show an extended long-term survival rate as an effect of lithium addition upon glucose deprivation. We show that caloric restriction mitigates the negative impact of LiCl on cellular survival. Therefore, we suggest that lithium could affect glucose metabolism upon caloric restriction, which could explain the extended long-term survival observed in our study. We find furthermore that lithium chloride did not affect an immediate salt-induced Hsp104-dependent aggregate formation but cellular adaptation to H2O2 and acute glucose starvation. We presume that different salt types and concentrations interfere with effective Hsp104 recruitment or its ATP-dependent disaggregase activity as a response to salt stress. This work provides novel details of Li+ effect on live eukaryotic cells which may also be applicable in further research on the treatment of cancer, Alzheimer’s, or other age-related diseases in humans.